The Time has Come

My mom used to adapt the phrase from Dr. Seuss’ Marvin K. Mooney book to inform me that it was time to do something – “The time has come, the time is now for Megan Elizabeth to go to bed now.” My memory mimics her voice and changes the phrasing whenever it’s time to make a change.

20120523 blog 1Today is my last day as an employee at The Institute Library. I’m leaving to have just one  job (instead of several part-time jobs) while I pursue a Master’s in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin Madison‘s low residency program. I’m not leaving New Haven and I’m not leaving the library – just the payroll so I am granted the flexibility to volunteer when it is convenient for me. I will most likely be here on Saturdays and for all the events….

Seriously, this is the coolest place ever.

I’ve met one of the world’s fastest lock pickers, a physics professor who’s building a time machine, nomads, authors, historians, and some of the most eccentric people with fascinating stories – because public libraries are society’s great social equalizer.

20120531 Blog 1I will miss giving the tour of the library the most – I usually get so excited that I nearly regurgitate the library’s history – unable to stop for air or questions. I want to hug this place – or at least the card catalog.

Alas, the time has come, the time is now, for Megan Elizabeth to go back to school now…



The Card Catalog, part II

Many patrons ask me, “So, this unique classification system – is it easier to use than the Dewey Decimal System?”

I’m always hesitant to answer because it does take time to become accustomed to the system and I haven’t figured out a shortened/summarized version yet.  In all honesty, I’m still learning the ins and outs of Borden’s classification system.  I don’t want to overwhelm anyone…

The books are shelved by class and sub-class and from there by order of acquisition.  This means that books by the same author may or may not be next to each other on the shelf, nor are the books put in alphabetical order by author.

Also, if the acquisition number is 1145, does not mean that it the 1145th book on the shelf in that subclass….Take a look at J6 (which is Fine Arts – Painting & Decoration) – the acquisition numbers are in chronological order, but there are numbers missing.  This is because when a books is deaccessioned (taken out of circulation) – its acquisition number is retired forever.  For a library that has been around since 1826, there are thousands of books that have been taken from the shelves to make way for other (not necessarily new) books.

So where do these deaccessioned books disappear to?  Mostly – to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books (located on the 3rd and 4th floors of the library).

This is the 4th floor cemetery – thousands of books fill the plastic bags.  Over the past year or so, the library’s Book Committee has been busy going through all of these forgotten books.  They have a specific criteria for which ones will be kept, the ones to be sold at the next book sale, and the ones to be recycled.

This photo is of already sorted books in the Children’s reading room – located on the 3rd floor and currently not open to the general public.  More on the great work of the Book Committee later…

The books that will be kept will be put back into circulation.  HOPEFULLY – all of these books will still have their book plates, indicating their classification and acquisition codes.  Unfortunately, there has been some misunderstanding of the classification system since the 1930s (example: Far Eastern Asian History is currently classified as European History due to WWII).  This will undoubtedly create some more confusion.

I will explain the growth intentions of library classification systems and what happened to the Institute Library’s classification system after William Borden left the library in Part III.

The Story of the Nations

One of the perks of showing up to work early is I am free to lazily read random finds from the stacks.  This morning, Vickie had a surprise waiting for me on my desk.She saw the title while processing new books to add to the library’s collection – accessioned in 1893.  She went to the shelf to see if was still there….sure enough, it was.

The Story of the Nations: Australiasia – It’s the story of the British colonies, published in 1893.  G. Mitchell was the last person to check the book out – in October 1897.  I love Mr. Borden’s beautiful calligraphy…

Since I arrived at the library before my shift starts – I had time to thumb through the book (my original intention was to work on a translating project, but per usual, I was distracted). So, I learned a bit about “Australasia” The photos below are some of my favorites from the book.


Yale Day of Service

HUGE thanks to all the volunteers who came for the Yale Day of Service on Saturday, May 12th.  They got SO much accomplished for the library.

Photos to come.

The Cemetery of Forgotten Books

“This is a place of mystery, Daniel, a sanctuary.  Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul.  The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it.  Every time a book changes hands, every times someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.
“When a library disappears, or a bookshop closes down, when a book is consigned to oblivion, those of us who know this place, its guardians, make sure that it gets here.  In this place, books no longer remembered by anyone, books that are lost in time, live forever, waiting for the day when they will reach a new reader’s hands.  In the shop we buy and sell them, but in truth books have no owner.”

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafrón